Q. How has the Drew MFA program helped you with your writing?
A. The Drew MFA program has helped me in several ways:
- At Drew, I became part of a community of writers that nurtured me and inspired me to create new work.
- The study plans you develop with your mentor, and by peaking over the shoulders of other MFA candidates became amazing guideposts for learning how to enter and exit a poem and for developing your own poetics.
- The monthly cover letters help you to be really aware of what you are learning and experiencing in your writing life and articulating that awareness feeds your poems and helps you to stay focused.
- It is the place where I became a more confident writer.
Q. How did you manage to balance writing with the rest of your life while pursuing an MFA and afterwards?
A. I got up early in the morning sometimes as early as 3:00 am to write. I read on the subway during my commute back and forth to work. Before my grandbaby came to live with me, I often would work straight through the weekend. Afterwards, sometimes, I hired a babysitter so that I could devote an entire day to the work.
Q. Describe one of your favorite Drew experiences.
A. One of my favorite Drew experiences was when following the earthquake in Haiti a group of us gathered at a table in the cafeteria to talk about what we could do to make a positive difference. During that meeting we decided to host a reading. A group of us from that meeting formed Poets for Ayiti, a diverse group of poets committed to the power of poetry to educate and heal. In addition to the reading, Poets for Ayiti published For the Crowns of Your Head, a chapbook collection of poems written by New York poets (including several Drew poets) that is the thank you gift for those who donate money to help rebuild Bibliotheque de Soleil, a library razed during the 2010 earthquake in Haiti.
Q. Did you stay connected to the Drew MFA community after graduation?
A. Yes. One of the poets I met at Drew has become by my poetry confident, primary reader and close friend. Several poets that I have met at Drew have come to my off campus readings and support me in many other ways.
Q. How does writing and/or translating poetry relate to your professional life?
A. Writing poetry and the business of bringing it into the world is my profession. The study of translation has heightened my appreciation of translated works and the absolute necessity for giving voice to poets from around the world.
Q. Describe your personal writing process.
A. Write, read, write, research, write, re-write, share with other poets in workshop, re-write, read, write, read, research, re-write, read, write, write, write.
Q. Describe the experience of seeing your work in print.
A. It is a wonderful experience seeing “me and Nina” in print and to read individual poems in journals and online. I feel validated as a writer and encouraged to continue making poems.